It’s been a year of birds. At least that’s what the editor of Best Small Fictions 2017 says. I’ve been enjoying the anthology, a Christmas present from Steve, and was startled to read in Tarah L. Masih’s introduction: “Birds, birds, birds. We did not see so many birds if any in 2014 or 2015. Perhaps almost 60 percent of the nominations included birds. That’s a lot of birds.”
It seems particularly odd because my very first publication this year, on January 1, 2017, was a nonfiction micro about a dead bird. Here’s “Avian Portent” from Entropy.
Tarah L. Masih speculates, “Perhaps they reflect some prescient Hitchcockian malaise that was forming collectively.” And that seems to fit my micro. Here’s the picture of the actual dead bird on my front porch that accompanied it.
Alison K. Williams asks some questions in "The Year of the Writer" on the Brevity blog (the only blog I read regularly) that seem worth answering.
"How was 2017? OK, a dumpster fire, yes, but how was your writing in 2017? Because now is a great time to consider what you got done. Not scold yourself for what you meant to do and didn't, but genuinely take a moment and sit with your accomplishments."
"Did you write an essay or a paragraph or a sentence you’re really proud of? Get a piece accepted? Submitted to places you want to be accepted? Help another writer with insight or feedback or supportive critique? Make it to a workshop or a class or a conference or a coffee date with another writer? Read a book you really loved that showed you something about writing? Read a craft book and tried some exercises? Researched something new? They all count. So bask in the feeling of accomplishment. Make some notes about what felt great to get done, and why it worked to do it that way. Congratulations."
Publishing The Missing Girl, my first chapbook, has made it an exciting year. I’ve gotten such gratifying feedback from readers and reviewers, loved doing interviews and my first podcast, and working with the wonderful editors at Black Lawrence Press. I’ve also done more readings this year than in previous years, and become more aware of what a vital, sustaining literary community I belong to here in the Bay Area and also on twitter (particularly among flash writers and editors). As ever, I'm grateful to my wonderful bimonthly writing group in San Francisco, the Leporine Conspiracy. I've also been trading flash online with a couple of great readers/writers, and some stories and essays with individual readers as far away as Berlin. It’s been a year of high anxiety, politically, but also a year when I’ve appreciated writing and other writers more than ever.
I’ve thought of myself as a creative nonfiction writer, but I’m beginning to see myself as a flash writer too. It was extremely encouraging to win the high stakes flash/poetry contest at Midway Journal judged by Michael Martone, and to get a Pushcart nomination from Wigleaf.
PUBLISHED OR ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION IN 2017
The Missing Girl (Black Lawrence Press)
Rooted (Outpost 19); Forgotten Women (Grayson Books)
accepted and forthcoming: They Said (Black Lawrence Press); Fairy Tales and Folk Tales (Between the Lines Press): Nothing Short of 100 (Outpost 19)
The Gettysburg Review, Superstition Review, Under the Gum Tree
accepted and forthcoming: Under the Sun, Zone 3
accepted and forthcoming: Persimmon Tree
Wigleaf, matchbook, Ellipsis, Midway Journal, Flash Frontier, Occulum, Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, b(OINK), Threadcount, Entropy
accepted and forthcoming: Hotel Amerika, Fiction Southeast, Change Seven, Spelk, A-Minor, Jellyfish Review, Post Road
Notable in Best American Essays 2017
First place in flash contest at Midway Journal
Pushcart nomination from Wigleaf
Best Small Fictions 2018 nomination from Black Lawrence Press
Resolution for the New Year: I have some essays in progress, some essays and stories still looking for homes, but my ambition this year is to complete Do-It-Yourself Night: A Suburban Memoir. I had such a productive writing residency in Pennsylvania with Alia Volz over a year ago, and while I’ve been adding new essays to the collection since then, and placing others for publication, I haven’t worked on pulling together the project as a whole. I’ll have spring quarter off. I hope I can start working on the manuscript again in April when winter quarter classes are over for me.
I’d like to keep writing, and not let anxiety about the news weigh me down or occupy quite so much time. I’d like to keep reading, flash writers on internet zines, and books in the growing stack by my bed. I’d like to support other writers, including my writing students, and take the time to appreciate all the support I receive.
Happy New Year to all of you. May your wishes come true.